Archive for November, 2013

2013 hurricane season recap
November 30, 2013

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

To meteorologists, this hurricane season was a dud.  To those in the potential path of hurricanes, it couldn’t have been better.  The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends November 30th, and this year was a well-below normal season.  You can see on the chart below that we had a near-normal number of storms, but they failed to strengthen very much.

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Of the two hurricanes that formed, Humberto and Ingrid, neither got stronger than a Category 1 and neither made landfall in the U.S.  In fact, only 1 storm made landfall in the U.S. all season.  Tropical Storm Andrea started the season in early June and delivered widespread rain up and down the East Coast.  [The other storm shown hitting the Gulf coast of Florida was the remnants of Tropical Storm Karen in early October.]

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One way to assess the overall “strength” of the entire hurricane season is by calculating the ACE value, which stands for Accumulated Cyclone Energy.  This is done by adding the wind speed of every storm for every six hours.  This will account for the strength AND duration of storms throughout the year.  As you can see on the chart made by Weather Underground, the ACE value this season was one of the lowest in the last couple of decades.

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What is a typhoon?
November 16, 2013

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

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With the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan still making headlines, many have been comparing its effects to other storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  Is this a fair assessment?  Yes … typhoons and hurricanes are essentially the same type of storm, just different regions of the world have different names for it.

Any of these “hurricane-like” storms are meteorological-defined tropical cyclones.  In the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and central and northeast Pacific, they become referred to as hurricanes.  In the northwest Pacific they are called typhoons.  In the India Ocean and southwestern Pacific they are referred to as cyclones.

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Nor’easter unlikely next week
November 9, 2013

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

Rumors swirled over the last couple of days about a potential nor’easter coming to the Northeast next week.  Yes, some computer models depicted a snowstorm in the Wednesday-Thursday time frame, but more and more models are starting to throw out that scenario.

Below are two sample computer models for Wednesday and Thursday morning.  Notice how an area of high pressure spreads out over the eastern part of the country, and continues to block any precipitation from riding up the coastline … instead it stays harmlessly out at sea.

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While this is one example, over the last 48 hours we are seeing more and more different types of models and repeated runs of these models show this sort of solution.  Even some of the models that depicted an all-out snowstorm just a few days ago are trending to this quieter weather pattern as well.

Certainly the weather patterns can change over the next few days, but generally speaking, larger systems such as this huge area of high pressure over the eastern U.S. do not suddenly “disappear” from the models.  Always stay posted, but you can ease up a bit on the worries of a major storm.  As of now, the forecast for western Mass has sunshine staying intact all the way through the second-half of the week.

When Sandy became a Superstorm
November 2, 2013

By Meteorologist Mike Skurko

This past week was the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which was responsible for record flooding in New York and New Jersey, record waves in the Great Lakes, and three feet of snow in West Virginia.  It was this combination of weather events spread over a wide portion of the Northeast that labeled Sandy a “superstorm” rather than just a hurricane.

A superstorm is not an official designation my any meteorological agencies.  According to an interesting article this week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there was a defined moment when Sandy went from an ordinary east coast tropical system to a superstorm containing more widespread impacts than a normal hurricane.

On Friday, October 27th, a weak Sandy merged with a trough sweeping through the eastern United States.  While this temporarily weakened the storm, it made it larger in size and pushed it further out to sea as it moved north out of the Caribbean.  This put it into position to make the right turn into New Jersey and the rest is history.

When merging with this trough on the 27th, meteorologists recognized how this would impact the storm and all of the hazards that could potentially be delivered to a heavily populated part of the country.  The merging with this trough started making some aspects of Sandy behaving as a hybrid storm system.  Therefore it was that night, October 27th, when there was a sign that the storm would be more than a Category 1 hurricane … it would be a superstorm.

The full article can be read here: How Sandy went from ‘boring’ to killer superstorm

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